December 29, 2012

Berries bounce back, top No. 1 HSE

by Beau Wicker

NEW CASTLE — Logansport bounced back from a loss to a No. 1-ranked team with a win over a No. 1-ranked team.

And another No. 1-ranked team went on to win the title.

It was that kind of day and that kind of field at the girls Hall of Fame Classic Friday at the New Castle Fieldhouse.

The Berries’ day certainly ended better than it started, as they knocked off Class 4A No. 1 Hamilton Southeastern 50-40 in the consolation game of the Classic.

Columbus North, which is ranked No. 1 in the IBCA poll, won the title with a 63-55 win over Evansville Mater Dei.

After a disappointing 29-point loss to Mater Dei earlier in the day, the Berries showed great resiliency in bouncing back with a win over HSE just hours later.

“It’s good to come up with that win, especially after we had been feeling pretty down on ourselves after that first game,” Logan guard Whitney Jennings said.

Jennings scored 10 of her game-high 19 points in the third quarter to help turn a 19-19 score at halftime into a 34-27 lead after three quarters.

After a Taya Reimer basket cut the lead to 36-31 with five minutes left in the game, Rachel Jennings quickly answered with a 3-pointer to push the lead back up to 8. Nakeya Penny followed with a jumper that made it a 10-point game 3:35 to go. The Berries then hit 9 of 12 free throws in the final 2:20 to seal the win.

Rachel Jennings finished with 18 points and was named to the all-tournament team along with her sister Whitney. Penny had nine points, Madyson Price chipped in four and Kiley Victor added seven rebounds.

HSE features 6-3 Notre Dame recruit Reimer, who’s the nation’s fourth-ranked player on, and 6-1 Saint Joseph’s (Philadelphia) recruit Jessica Pagonis.

Pagonis led the Royals with 14 points, but Reimer was held to just six points on 3 of 11 shooing.

“I don’t know that we did anything special,” Logan coach Jerry Hoover said. “We gave her special attention, but she wasn’t shooting like I’ve seen her shoot. I saw her just absolutely tear Brownsburg up, and Brownsburg is good. She didn’t have a good game, but that’s perfectly all right with a player of her stature. Once in a while you’re not going to have a good game.”

The game was a battle of attrition, as both teams showed fatigue in their second game of the day. The Berries had four players play all 32 minutes in the nightcap.

While Whitney Jennings may have had tired legs — she shot just 5 of 19 from the field — she still was relentless on leading Logan’s fastbreak attack and shot 9 of 10 from the foul line, including 6 of 6 in the third quarter when the Berries were able to create some separation.

“We could tell they were a little tired, so we just tried to run them,” Whitney Jennings said. “I just tried to run in the open court and get some fast-break stuff and get fouled. But I thought we came back very well and I’m proud of my team.”

The Berries (12-1) were able to salvage a win, while the Royals (11-2) had to go home with two losses after entering with just one loss in the last two seasons — a sectional loss to eventual Class 4A state champion North Central a year ago.

Hoover said the Royals, a possible regional opponent, are capable of playing much better.

“[HSE coach Chris Huppenthal] said that his team has just gotten to a point where they weren’t paying much attention to him and not paying much attention to anything. He kept telling them, ‘you’re going to get beat here.’ I asked him if he saw it coming, and he said ‘I saw it coming.’ See, I didn’t see it coming against Mater Dei. I thought we were going to beat them and this game right here would be in the championship game in the tournament.”

Pick up Sunday’s paper for additional coverage of the girls Hall of Fame Classic.